I’m always experimenting with unique tofu recipes. The one I came up with today could be categorized as a fusion Nuyorican dish, Tofu con chili y Gandules. Basically it’s tofu spiced with chili and coupled with green pigeon peas or what we call gandules, a legume very popular in our cuisine. For this dish I used pigeon peas because I happen to have a couple of cans on hand. I’m sure you can try it with any bean variety of your choice, be it red beans, black, white, pinto or, even black eye peas. The fusion element comes in when I add soy sauce and peanut butter to attain a distinctive sweet and sour affect. Trust me, you’ll love it.
The dish may be a bit repetitive in that you use two pans to cook the ingredients. Other than that, it’s quite easy to make. Also, It’s an entrée that you can serve by itself or over rice or pasta. If you’re a tofu fan, this recipe will hit the spot.
Final Note: in our family, we like extra firm tofu but, even with extra firm, we still press it before cooking. Pressing the tofu compresses it and squeezes out extra moisture, making it firmer and dryer, which means you can get a more closed-grained interior and wonderfully crisp exterior when you cook it. The procedure is easy enough: wrap a block of tofu in a couple sheets of paper towels, then place in a plate with a lip. Put something heavy like a frying pan on top and weigh it down with 2 full cans or jars, or even a couple of books, and leave for 30 minutes.. The tofu will lose about two-thirds its original thickness, and up to 100ml water will have been removed. You can take a chance on cooking the tofu without pressing, but you might end up with shredded tofu and a soup-like consistency. Better to be safe and sure.
TOFU CON CHILI Y GANDULES
1 bloc tofu (14-16 oz,) rinsed and cut into chunks or serving pieces
¼ cup soy sauce
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
2 (15 oz.) cans gandules – reserve the liquid in the cans
1 tablespoon chili powder or to taste
1 tablespoon cumin powder
- In a bowl, combine the tofu, soy sauce, tomato paste, peanut butter, oregano and water. Mix until the tofu is evenly coated.
- In a wok or large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and fry the tofu pieces until all liquid is absorbed and the tofu is browned.
- In another smaller pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is transparent. Add these, the browned tofu, and gandules to the wok or large pan. Add reserved water from the cans, chili powder and cumin. Stir to mix, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes or until hot.
Yield: 4-6 servings.